This novel is set in Africa and the whole story is told through conversations between two characters Bobby and Linda, who are on a long drive in a car. It explores the attitudes of main characters of this novel who are English (but are in Africa to aid the colonial set-up) towards Africans and vice-versa. The tribal conflict makes the African land unsafe to outsiders. Violence and rage erupts which the story has to witness.
In the introductory note of this book, author Naipaul confesses he had conceived this novel during a period of his intense personal depression. I think that would have made this novel hard and full of pity. But his sentences are chiseled and writing style is precise, he can convey a complex emotion in a concise way. This book won third Booker prize in 1971.